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CONTENTS Introduction

How To Use This Dictionary A—Z

3 7


IllustratIons Closet Cockpit Doublet and Hose Rapier

57 113 225 283

Armour Swords and Daggers Clothing Hats Animals Colours Occupations Ships Recreation Music Cosmos Maps

154 156 158 160 162 164 166 168 170 172 174 176

Shakespearean Grammar Shakespearean Pronunciation Shakespeare’s French Shakespeare’s Latin

344 347 348 352

Panels Alarums and excursions Attention signals Comparisons Exclamations Family Goodbye Hello Humours Insults Money Numbers Politeness Quote it! Regretting Stage Directions Swearing Terms of Address

17 23 61 99 103 121 133 137 146 197 206 230 245 250 285 298 306

1 Great Clarendon Street, Oxford OX2 6DP. United Kingdom Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. Oxford is a registered trade mark of Oxford University Press in the UK and in certain other countries © David Crystal and Ben Crystal (text) 2015 © Kate Bellamy (illustrations) 2015 Database right Oxford University Press (maker) All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of Oxford University Press, or as expressly permitted by law, by licence or under terms agreed with the appropriate reprographics rights organization. Enquiries concerning reproduction outside the scope of the above should be sent to the Rights Department, Oxford University Press, at the address above. You must not circulate this work in any other binding or cover and you must impose this same condition on any acquirer British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data Data available ISBN: 9780192737502 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Paper used in the production of this book is a natural, recyclable product made from wood grown in sustainable forests. The manufacturing process conforms to the environmental regulations of the country of origin. Printed in Italy

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handling The wor ds The Where?

This dictionary brings together all the difficult words you’re likely to meet in twelve of Shakespeare’s most performed and studied plays: Hamlet, Henry V, Julius Caesar, King

Lear, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado About Nothing, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, and Twelfth Night.

The What?

These are the types of difficult words we’ve included: • words Shakespeare made up that aren’t in everyday language • words that have gone out of use since his time • words that have changed their meaning since his time • the names of antiquated or fictional people and places If a word had the same meaning to Shakespeare as it does to us today, we didn’t include it in this dictionary. We’ve also done things that dictionaries don’t normally do. In particular, we’ve grouped together words that, in meaning, belong together. It didn’t make sense to us to have ‘accommodate’ at one end of the alphabet and ‘unaccommodated’ at the other. So in our book we’ve brought them together, which we hope will help you remember them more easily. Sometimes the ‘family’ of words has several members, such as ‘cozen’, ‘cozenage’, ‘cozener’, and ‘cozening: you’ll find them all together at ‘cozen’.

The Who?

We show you the extract in which a word appears, and tell you who said it, and why: the context of the word. If it’s in a difficult passage, we explain that bit too. Also, for every word, we give an example of its use in one of the plays. There wasn’t room to include every instance of when a word is used, so be careful when you look up a word that has more than one meaning. You have to choose the meaning you think is right.

And The Why?

For example, if you see the word utter, and look it up, you’ll find three meanings: ‘exhale’, ‘offer for sale’, or ‘commemorate’. The game is to choose the meaning that works in the context. • The Apothecary tells Romeo about his drugs: ‘Mantua’s law / Is death to any he that utters them’.

The law is unlikely to dictate that anyone who talks about drugs will be put to death, so that rules out the meaning of ‘exhale’. It’s also hard to imagine a death penalty being put in place if someone ‘commemorates’ drugs. So we can deduce the meaning is likely to be the second, ‘offer for sale’. This makes sense, as Romeo is trying to buy poison from the Apothecary. (See p.8 for an explanation of the / sign.)

Ergo*: The Deduction

Follow this process of deduction when using this dictionary. If the example you’re looking for isn’t there, mentally remove the alternatives that don’t fit, one by one, until you’re left with one that fits better than the others: ‘Mantua’s law / Is death to any he that offers them for sale’.

Don’t be distracted by meanings that are the same as ones you probably know in modern English. That’s why we often begin an entry by saying: ‘as well as...’:


as well as meaning ‘comrade’, you’ll find: rogue

• Brutus orders an irritating poet to leave: ‘Companion, hence!’

We’re pointing out that, although companion does sometimes mean ‘comrade’ in Shakespeare, in this example from Julius Caesar it doesn’t. *see Latin, p.352


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How to Use tHIs DIctIonARy Each entry consists of the following elements:


—a word or phrase in bold


—for some words, there is an alternative spelling:

clerestory also spelled clearstory PART OF SPEECH

—if the heading is a single word, we tell you which word class (or ‘part of speech’) it belongs to: NOUN, VERB, ADJECTIVE, ADVERB, CONJUNCTION, PREPOSITION, INTERJECTION


—if the headword needs pronunciation guidance, we give a sound-alike respelling in square brackets, with a hyphen between syllables and the main stress in bold:

Aeneas NOUN [pronounced a‑nee‑as] DEFINITION

—the definition uses only words included in the Oxford English Dictionary for Schools; if a word has more than one meaning, the different definitions are numbered in sequence:


1 fierce

• (MND 5.1.217) Snug the joiner describes his character as ‘A lion fell’.

2 terrible

• (Mac 1.5.45) Lady Macbeth wants no natural feelings to ‘Shake my fell purpose’.


—if you see this sign w it means ‘take care’, to avoid being misled by a modern meaning you may already be familiar with:

rehearse VERB wDon’t read in the meaning of ‘practise’. utter

• (MND 5.1.380) Titania tells the Fairies: ‘rehearse your song by rote’.



—this sign introduces a comment which tells you more about how a word is used

apothecary or pothecary NOUN

one who prepares and sells medicinal drugs • (RJ 5.1.37) Romeo remembers where he can get some poison: ‘I do remember an apothecary’. We include the alternative spelling because the word sometimes drops its first syllable to fit the rhythm of a line.


—it also introduces a comment about the sources where the word may be found:

wonder NOUN

4 astonishing course of events • (Ham 4.5.88) Claudius says Laertes ‘Feeds on this wonder’. The Second Quarto text has ‘this wonder’. The First Folio has ‘his wonder’ (which would mean ‘his grief’).


—modern editions of Shakespeare will sometimes translate words into their modern equivalent; we provide the old version, but will point out if such a change is made:

shale NOUN

shell • (H5 4.2.18) The Constable says the French will suck away the souls of the English, ‘Leaving them but the shales and husks of men’. This is the spelling in the First Folio. Several editions replace it with ‘shells’.




— this sign introduces a comment about the cultural background, Elizabethan ways of thinking, or the theatrical practices of the time

groundlings NOUN

audience standing in a theatre courtyard around the stage • (Ham 3.2.10) Hamlet criticizes actors who ‘split the ears of the groundlings’. The groundlings would have paid the cheapest entrance fee, and would thus be considered poor and badly educated. Cheap entrance to the courtyard is also a feature of the reconstructed Shakespeare’s Globe in London, where standing members of the audience are still called groundlings.



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abbr eviaTions and var iaTions


—a quotation, showing the use of the word in a play, and always saying who is speaking (see Abbreviations); all quotations are taken from the Oxford School Shakespeare:


All quotations are from the Oxford School Shakespeare editions, using the following abbreviations to refer to a particular play: ABBR.


bush • (MND 2.1.227) Demetrius tells Helena he will ‘run from thee and hide me in the brakes’.


—when there is a / in the quotation it shows a break between lines of verse, as in the example from Twelfth Night on p.11 (at abjure).


Henry V Hamlet Julius Caesar King Lear Much Ado About Nothing Macbeth A Midsummer Night’s Dream The Merchant of Venice Othello Romeo and Juliet The Tempest Twelfth Night

brake NOUN

—we often include an extra gloss to help you with the sense:

coverture NOUN

canopied bower • (MA 3.1.30) Ursula sees Beatrice hiding ‘in the woodbine coverture’—a honeysuckle covered enclosure in the garden.


—this sign ❯ introduces a word with a related meaning to the main headword


refined • (H5 2.2.134) Henry is dismayed at Scroop’s treachery, ‘so finely bolted didst thou seem’—so well-refined.

❯ unbolted


unrefined • (KL 2.2.62) Kent threatens Oswald: ‘I will tread this unbolted villain into mortar’.

Ham JC MA Mac MND MV Oth RJ Tem TN

Line references are to Act.Scene.Line: (TN 3.1.55) = Twelfth Night Act 3. Scene 1. Line 55

Line number variations

If you are using another edition of a play, you may find that the line numbers are different, especially when the quotation is from a passage of prose. Usually, line numbers will differ only by a line or two, but where a scene is very long, the differences towards the end can be up to ten lines or so (as in Hamlet 3.2) — so you may have to look carefully to find the word you’ve just looked up.


Sometimes we make a link between entries in the A to Z section:

aunchient see ancient demi-natured see nature If a word you’re looking up is treated in the Panels or Thematic pages, it is listed in the A to Z section, with a crossreference:

adieu see GOODBYE, p.121 ergo see LATIN, p.352 8

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elizabeth i

a b c d

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Elizabeth I reigned for 44 years, an incredibly long time when the average life-span was only 35. She was the last of the dynasty known as the Tudors (descended from the Welshman, Owen Tudor, who married the widow of Henry V). She was monarch for most of Shakespeare’s life, and his company’s patron.


eager ADJECTIVE 1 biting

• (Ham 1.4.2) Horatio feels the cold on the battlements: ‘It is a nipping and an eager air’. 2 sour • (Ham 1.5.69) The Ghost describes the working of the poison—’like eager droppings into milk’.

eaning ADJECTIVE lambing • (MV 1.3.82) Shylock tells a story about ewes at ‘eaning time’—the time of year when lambs are born.

❯ eanling NOUN

new-born lamb • (MV 1.3.74) In Shylock’s story, Jacob would get ‘all the eanlings which were streak’d and pied’— born with coats streaked with different colours.

ear NOUN as well as its usual meaning as a part of the body, you’ll find: listening • (KL 3.4.88) Poor Tom says he is ‘light of ear’— always listening, and ready to believe anything.

❯ in the ear

within earshot • (Ham 3.1.184) Polonius says he will listen in to the conversation between Hamlet and Gertrude—’in the ear / Of all their conference’.

ear-bussing ADJECTIVE reaching the ear only as rumours (‘buss’ means ‘kiss’) • (KL 2.1.7) Curan tells Edmund of the news that people are whispering—’ear-bussing arguments’.

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earn VERB

mourn • (H5 2.3.3) Pistol, leaving for the wars, admits to his wife: ‘My manly heart doth earn’. ‘Erne’ is the spelling in the First Folio. Some editions replace it with ‘yearn’.


earnest NOUN

payment in advance • (KL 1.4.88) Lear gives Kent some money: ‘there’s earnest of thy service’.

easiness NOUN

indifference • (Ham 5.1.64) Hamlet comments on the way the First Gravedigger deals with death: ‘Custom hath made it in him a property of easiness’.

Easter NOUN

the feast of Christ’s resurrection • (RJ 3.1.27) Mercutio accuses Benvolio of falling out with a tailor ‘for wearing his new doublet before Easter’—during Lent, a time for penitence, not fashion.

eche also spelled eke VERB

stretch • (MV 3.2.23) Portia apologizes to Bassanio for speaking too long, saying it was to prolong the time, ‘To eche it’, before he makes his choice.

ecstasy NOUN wDon’t read the modern meanings of ‘rapturous delight’ or anything to do with drugs into these senses. 1 madness • (Ham 3.1.160) Ophelia describes Hamlet as ‘Blasted with ecstasy’. 2 frenzied behaviour • (MA 2.3.148) Leonato says, of Beatrice’s supposed

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element infatuation for Benedick, that ‘the ecstasy hath so much overborne her’—almost overwhelmed her. 3 state of mind • (Mac 4.3.172) Ross describes Scotland as a place where ‘violent sorrow seems / A modern ecstasy’— the normal state of affairs these days.

edge NOUN

1 ardour • (Ham 3.2.239) Hamlet tells Ophelia: ‘It would cost you a groaning to take off my edge’—satisfying my desire would make you groan (either with pleasure during sexual intercourse, or with pain when having a baby). 2 keen delight • (Tem 4.1.29) Ferdinand assures Prospero he will do nothing ‘to take away / The edge of that day’s celebration’—his wedding-day. 3 stimulus • (Ham 3.1.26) Claudius asks Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to find more things for Hamlet to enjoy: ‘give him a further edge’. ❯ edged ADJECTIVE

sharpened • (H5 3.6.38) The French King urges his nobles to fight ‘with spirit of honour edg’d’.

e’en see even effect NOUN as well as meaning ‘result’, you’ll find: 1 purpose • (Ham 3.4.129) Hamlet begs the Ghost not to look directly at him in case this would ‘convert / My stern effects’—make him alter his firm intentions. 2 sign • (MA 2.3.110) Leonato asks about Beatrice’s infatuation with Benedick: ‘what effects of passion shows she?’ 3 benefit • (Ham 3.3.54) Claudius reflects: ‘I am still possess’d / Of those effects for which I did the murder’.

effusion NOUN spilling • (H5 3.7.123) The French King tells Henry that the entire English army wouldn’t be enough to make up for ‘th’effusion of our blood’.

eftest ADJECTIVE quickest—perhaps intended to mean ‘deftest’ • (MA 4.2.34) Dogberry finds ‘the eftest way’ to proceed.

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egal also spelled egall ADJECTIVE equal • (MV 3.4.13) Portia talks of companions ‘Whose souls do bear an egall yoke of love’. ‘Egal’ is the spelling in the First Folio. Some editions replace it with ‘equal’.


egregious ADJECTIVE [pronounced e‑gree‑jus]

1 significant • (H5 4.4.9) Pistol demands ‘egregious ransom’ from his prisoner. 2 outrageous • (H5 2.1.42) Pistol calls Nym an ‘egregious dog’.

eisel also spelled eysell NOUN [pronounced iy‑sul] vinegar • (Ham 5.1.262) Hamlet challenges Laertes: ‘Woo’t drink up eisel?’—would you drink a bottle of vinegar?

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also • (MND 3.1.81) Thisbe addresses Pyramus: ‘Most brisky juvenal, and eke most lovely Jew’—a lively youth as well as a lovely Jew.

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eke VERB see eche elder gun also spelled elder-gun NOUN


pop-gun (whose shot wouldn’t hurt anyone) • (H5 4.1.186) Williams dismisses the disguised Henry’s remark: ‘That’s a perilous shot out of an elder gun’.


election NOUN as well as its political meaning, you’ll find: choice • (MV 2.9.3) Nerissa says that Arragon ‘comes to his election presently’—he’s coming right now to make his choice.

element NOUN 1 substance

• (MA 2.1.317) Leonata describes Beatrice: ‘There’s little of the melancholy element in her’. 2 heavens • (JC 1.3.128) Cassius describes ‘the complexion of the element’ as being as fiery as the conspirators’ intentions. 3 social station • (TN 3.4.113) Malvolio addresses Sir Toby and the others: ‘I am not of your element’.

❯ the elements

1 the substances from which all material things

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ee f g h i j k l m n

are made—thought to be earth, water, air, and fire • (TN 2.3.9) Sir Toby asks Sir Andrew: ‘Does not our life consist of the four elements?’ 2 the forces of nature • (KL 3.1.4) A Gentleman talks of Lear ‘Contending with the fretful elements’.

elf VERB

tangle • (KL 2.3.10) Edgar says he will ‘elf all my hairs in knots’.

❯ elf-locks NOUN

tangled hair (thought to be the work of elves) • (RJ 1.4.90) Mercutio describes the way Queen Mab tangles and hardens horses’ manes— ’bakes the elf-locks in foul sluttish hairs’—like the hair of untidy women.

ell NOUN

a measure of length—in England, 45 in /about 114 cm (based on the length from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger) • (RJ 2.4.77) Mercutio describes Romeo’s wit as something ‘that stretches from an inch narrow to an ell broad!’

Elysium NOUN [pronounced el‑iz‑ee‑um]


in Greek mythology, the location of heaven • (TN 1.2.4) Viola thinks her brother has drowned and ‘is in Elysium’.


embar also spelled imbar, imbare VERB

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reveal or prevent discovery of • (H5 1.2.94) Canterbury says the French would rather hide themselves in a net ‘Than amply to embar their crooked titles’—honestly admit to the weaknesses in their claims.

embassage also spelled ambassage NOUN

errand • (MA 1.1.256) Benedick tells Don Pedro that he has just about enough capacity to deliver his message to Leonato: ‘I have almost matter enough in me for such an embassage’.

❯ embassy NOUN

wDon’t read in the modern meaning of ‘the residence of a country’s ambassador’. message • (TN 1.5.155) Olivia tells Maria: ‘’We’ll once more hear Orsino’s embassy’.

embay VERB

go within a bay • (Oth 2.1.18) Montano wonders if the Turkish fleet are ‘enshelter’d and embay’d’.

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embossed ADJECTIVE

swollen, bulging • (KL 2.4.221) Lear calls Goneril ‘a boil, / A plaguesore, or embossed carbuncle’—a swollen tumour.

embrue see imbrue emperious see imperious empery NOUN

sovereignty • (H5 1.2.227) Henry predicts England will rule ‘in large and ample empery / O’er France’.

employment NOUN wDon’t read in the meaning of ‘having a job’. matter, pursuit • (TN 2.5.76) Malvolio sees Olivia’s letter: ‘What employment have we here?’


unburdened • (JC 4.1.26) Antony proposes to remove responsibilities from Lepidus so that he is ‘Like to the empty ass’.


ambitious • (Ham 1.1.86) Horatio describes Fortinbras being ‘prick’d on by a most emulate pride’.

❯ emulation NOUN

ambitious rivalry • (JC 2.3.13) Artemidorus tries to warn Julius Caesar about his enemies, lamenting that ‘virtue cannot live / Out of the teeth of emulation’—good cannot come from such competitive ill-will.

enacture NOUN

performance • (Ham 3.2.189) The Player King says ‘The violence of either grief or joy / Their own enactures with themselves destroy’.

enamelled also spelled enamell’d ADJECTIVE wDon’t read in the meaning of ‘coated with enamel’. with a hard, polished, brightly coloured surface • (MND 2.1.255) Oberon describes a bank where ‘the snake throws her enamell’d skin’.

encave VERB

conceal • (Oth 4.1.81) Iago tells Othello to ‘encave yourself’.

enchafed ADJECTIVE

angry • (Oth 2.1.17) The Second Gentleman says he ‘never did like molestation view / On the enchafed flood’—such disturbance on the angry sea.

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enclog VERB

hinder • (Oth 2.1.70) Cassio describes the coastal rocks as ready ‘to enclog the guiltless keel’—to bring down the approaching ship. This is the word used in the First Folio. Some editions replace it with the First and Second Quarto version, ‘clog’.


encompassment NOUN

roundabout means • (Ham 2.1.10) Polonius advises Reynaldo to find out about Laertes by ‘encompassment and drift of question’.

encounter VERB

as well as meaning ‘meet’, you’ll find: 1 approach • (TN 3.1.71) Sir Toby asks Cesario to ‘encounter the house’. 2 stand opposite • (Tem 4.1.137) Iris calls to a group of men reaping the corn: ‘these fresh nymphs encounter every one / In country footing’—each should take a partner for a dance.

encumbered also spelled encumber’d VERB

folded • (Ham 1.5.182) Hamlet imagines Horatio and Marcellus standing ‘With arms encumber’d thus’.

endart VERB

send in—as an arrow • (RJ 1.3.99) Juliet promises her mother ‘no more deep will I endart mine eye / Than your consent gives strength to make it fly’—she will encourage Paris only with her mother’s approval.

endite see indite endue see indue Endymion NOUN [pronounced en‑dim‑ee‑on]

in Greek mythology, a young shepherd loved by the moon; Zeus granted his wish of eternal sleep, and thus he remained forever young. • (MV 5.1.109) Portia, returning home, calls to Lorenzo and Jessica, as if they were mythological lovers: ‘The moon sleeps with Endymion / And would not be awak’d!’

enforce VERB

as well as meaning ‘force’, you’ll find: emphasize • (JC 3.2.38) Brutus tells the people that Caesar’s death has been officially recorded, without ‘his offences enforced’—without stressing his faults.

❯ enforced ADJECTIVE

violated • (MND 3.1.185) Titania describes the moon—

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thought of as the cause of dew—making flowers weep, ‘Lamenting some enforced chastity’—feeling sorrow for times when a rape takes place.

enfranchise VERB

set free • (MA 1.3.28) Don John complains that he has been ‘enfranchised with a clog’—given the freedom of a beast with its legs hobbled. Owners who were worried their animals might escape would ‘hobble’ them—tie something to their legs (or even break their legs) to ensure they didn’t stray.


❯ enfranchisement NOUN

giving the status of citizen • (JC 3.1.57) Cassius falls on his knees before Caesar ‘To beg enfranchisement for Publius Cimber’—someone Caesar had banished.

engaged also spelled engag’d ADJECTIVE wDon’t read in the meanings of ‘promised to marry’ or ‘unavailable’. entangled • (Ham 3.3.69) Claudius addresses his soul ‘that struggling to be free / Art more engag’d!’

engendered also spelled engender’d ADJECTIVE

devised • (Oth 1.3.394) Iago thinks up his plan: ‘I have’t. It is engender’d’.

❯ high-engendered ADJECTIVE

brought into being by the heavens • (KL 3.2.23) Lear calls down on his head the storm’s ‘high-engender’d battles’.

engild VERB

brighten • (MND 3.2.187) Lysander says Helena has a face that ‘engilds the night’.

engine NOUN wDon’t read the modern meanings of ‘steam engine’ or ‘search engine’ into these senses.

1 plot

• (Oth 4.2.214) Iago promises Roderigo that he will get Desdemona for him, or else Roderigo can ‘devise engines for my life’—plan ways to kill me. 2 weapon • (Tem 2.1.157) Gonzalo says that in his imaginary world he would not have ‘need of any engine’. 3 lever • (KL 1.4.258) Lear says Cordelia’s fault ‘like an engine, wrench’d my frame of nature / From the

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fix’d place’—her behaviour led to a disruption in his normal state of being.

❯ enginer also spelled engineer NOUN

a builder of military works • (Ham 3.4.208) Hamlet finds it amusing ‘to have the enginer / Hoist with his own petard’—see the plotter’s plots blow up in his face. uThis line is not in all editions of Hamlet, as it appears in the Second Quarto text of the play, but not the First Folio.

englut VERB

swallow up • (H5 4.3.83) Montjoy tells Henry: ‘thou art so near the gulf / Thou needs must be englutted’—you are bound to die because defeat is very near.

engraffed, engrafted see ingraft engrossing ADJECTIVE wDon’t read in the modern meaning of ‘fascinating’. all-absorbing • (RJ 5.3.115) Romeo gives his last kiss to Juliet as ‘A dateless bargain to engrossing Death!’

enguard VERB

protect • (KL 1.4.317) Goneril fears the way Lear’s knights would ‘enguard his dotage’—protect his feebleness of mind.

enjoy VERB

as well as meaning ‘take pleasure in’, you’ll find: have sex with • (KL 5.3.79) Goneril asks Regan about Edmund: ‘Mean you to enjoy him?’

enlarge VERB

1 release • (H5 2.2.40) Henry instructs: ‘Enlarge the man committed yesterday’. 2 extend • (Ham 5.1.210) The Priest says Ophelia’s funeral rites ‘have been as far enlarg’d / As we have warranty’—as she is presumed to be a suicide, he has done as much as Catholic law allows.


enormous ADJECTIVE wDon’t read in the modern meaning of ‘huge’.


disordered or shocking • (KL 2.2.164) Kent hopes Cordelia will help find a remedy ‘From this enormous state’—from this terrible situation.

y z 94


enough • (Mac 2.3.6) The Porter tells visitors to ‘have

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napkins enow about you’—handkerchieves to mop up their sweat. ‘Enow’ is the word used in the First Folio. Some editions replace it with ‘enough’.


enraged also spelled enrag’d ADJECTIVE wDon’t read in the modern meaning of ‘very angry’. passionate • (MA 2.3.103) Leonato says that Beatrice loves Benedick ‘with an enraged affection’.

enridged also spelled enridg’d ADJECTIVE rippling • (KL 4.6.71) Edgar describes the beggar he saw as having horns twisted and curled ‘like the enridged sea’.

enrobe VERB dress in a robe • (MV 1.1.34) Salarino imagines his merchant ship being wrecked by rocks which would ‘Enrobe the roaring waters with my silks’.

enrol VERB wDon’t read in the meaning of ‘become a member of something’. record officially • (JC 3.2.37) Brutus says the manner of Caesar’s death ‘is enrolled in the Capitol’.

enscarped also spelled enscarp’d ADJECTIVE with sharp ridges • (Oth 2.1.70) Cassio describes dangerous rocks as being ‘Traitors enscarp’d’. ‘Enscarped’ is the spelling used in the First Quarto text of the play. The First Folio has ‘ensteeped’.


enseamed ADJECTIVE slimy • (Ham 3.4.92) Hamlet condemns Gertrude for living ‘In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed’.

ensteeped also spelled ensteep’d ADJECTIVE submerged • (Oth 2.1.70) Cassio describes dangerous rocks as being ‘Traitors ensteeped’. ‘Ensteeped’ is the word that appears in the First Folio. Some editions use the First Quarto version, ‘enscarped’.


entertain VERB wDon’t read meanings to do with ‘keeping someone amused’ into these senses.

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equity as well as meaning ‘receive as a guest’ and ‘consider’, you’ll find: 1 welcome • (Tem 4.1.75) Iris tells Ceres to welcome Juno: ‘Approach, rich Ceres, her to entertain’. 2 hire • (JC 5.5.60) Octavius announces: ‘All that serv’d Brutus, I will entertain them’. 3 accept as true • (H5 4.Chorus.1) The Chorus asks the audience to imagine the next scene to be true: ‘Now entertain conjecture of a time’—believe in the imaginary setting we are going to portray. 4 maintain • (MV 1.1.90) Gratiano describes men whose faces ‘do a wilful stillness entertain’ in order to appear wise.

❯ entertainer NOUN

receiver • (Tem 2.1.18) Gonzalo suggests that taking in every grief only causes more sorrow ‘to th’ entertainer’.

❯ entertainment NOUN

1 reception • (TN 1.5.199) Cesario tells Olivia that his apparent rudeness ‘have I learned from my entertainment’—from the way he has been treated. 2 hospitality • (KL 2.4.203) Regan tells Lear that she hasn’t enough in her house ‘needful for your entertainment’.

entreatment NOUN interaction • (Ham 1.3.122) Polonius advises Ophelia to ‘Set your entreatments at a higher rate / Than a command to parley’—don’t talk to him just because he asks you to.

enure see inure envious ADJECTIVE wDon’t read the meaning of ‘wanting something that someone else has’ into these senses. malicious • (RJ 3.1.164) Benvolio reports that Tybalt killed Mercutio with ‘An envious thrust’—an unfair fencing move.

❯ enviously ADVERB

maliciously • (Ham 4.5.6) A Gentleman says that Ophelia

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‘Spurns enviously at straws’—treats little matters with spiteful contempt.

❯ envy NOUN

malice • (MV 4.1.10) Antonio says of Shylock: ‘no lawful means can carry me / Out of his envy’s reach’.

environ VERB

surround • (RJ 4.3.50) Juliet imagines herself distraught in the tomb, ‘Environed with all these hideous fears’.

envy see envious Epicurus NOUN [pronounced e‑pee‑cure‑us]

Greek philosopher of the 4th century BC, who viewed omens as mere superstitions and advocated a way of life based on pleasure and friendship • (JC 5.1.76) Cassius recalls how he formerly ‘held Epicurus strong / And his opinion’—was convinced by Epicurus’ views on omens.

❯ epicure NOUN

pleasure-seeker • (Mac 5.3.8) Macbeth says the thanes ‘mingle with the English epicures’.

❯ epicurism NOUN

gluttony, pleasure-seeking • (KL 1.4.233) Goneril describes how Lear’s knights have turned her house into a place of ‘epicurism and lust’.

epithet NOUN

turn of phrase • (MA 5.2.61) Benedick considers the phrase ‘Suffer love’ to be ‘a good epithet’.


as well as meaning ‘same in amount’, you’ll find: exact • (MV 1.3.145) Shylock tells Antonio his forfeit will be ‘an equal pound / Of your fair flesh’.

❯ equally ADVERB

justly • (KL 5.3.46) Albany says he will treat his prisoners ‘As we shall find their merits and our safety / May equally determine’.

equinoctial see COSMOS, p.174 equinox NOUN

counterbalance • (Oth 2.3.110) Iago says that Cassio’s vice is ‘to his virtue a just equinox’—one is equal to the other.

equity NOUN

justice • (KL 3.6.37) Lear describes the Fool as Poor Tom’s ‘yoke-fellow of equity’—fellow-judge.

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equivocation NOUN double meaning • (Mac 5.5.42) Macbeth begins to doubt ‘th’equivocation of the fiend’.

❯ equivocator NOUN

someone who deals in double meanings • (Mac 2.3.8) The Porter imagines who is knocking at Macbeth’s castle gate: ‘Here’s an equivocator that could swear in both the scales against either scale’—swear his support equally for either side of an argument (the figure of Justice is traditionally represented holding a pair of scales).

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pay for • (Ham 2.2.339) Hamlet asks how the child players are paid their wages: ‘How are they escotted?’

esperance NOUN

watcher • (Ham 3.1.32) Polonius describes Claudius and himself as ‘lawful espials’ of Ophelia.

Erebus NOUN [pronounced e‑re‑bus] in Greek mythology, a place of darkness on the way from earth to the Underworld • (MV 5.1.87) Lorenzo says a man who has no music in him (who doesn’t like music) has ‘affections dark as Erebus’. a while before • (MND 3.2.274) Hermia says to Lysander: ‘I am as fair now as I was erewhile’.



before • (Ham 3.2.316) Rosencrantz tells Hamlet that Gertrude wants to speak with him ‘ere you go to bed’.



escape see scape escote past form spelled escoted or escotted

hope • (KL 4.1.4) Edgar reflects that even the lowest being ‘Stands still in esperance’—still has hope.

erewhile ADVERB


exploding. disturbance • (JC 1.3.78) Cassius describes as fearful ‘these strange eruptions’ taking place in the city.

Ercles see Hercules ere CONJUNCTION

o q

eruption NOUN wDon’t read in the meaning of a volcano

ergo see LATIN, p.352 erring ADJECTIVE wDon’t read the modern meaning of ‘making a mistake’ into these senses. wandering • (Ham 1.1.159) Horatio talks of the way the ‘erring spirit hies / To his confine’—rushes back to his prison.

❯ error NOUN

wandering • (Oth 5.2.110) Othello claims that men are made mad by ‘the very error of the moon’.

erst ADVERB formerly • (H5 5.2.48) Burgundy describes the French meadows ‘that erst brought sweetly forth / The freckled cowslip’—that used to bloom with flowers.

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espial NOUN

espouse VERB

marry • (H5 2.1.67) Pistol suggests to Nym that he find Doll Tearsheet ‘and her espouse’.

essay NOUN wDon’t read in the meaning of a school essay. trial • (KL 1.2.44) Edmund tells Gloucester that Edgar’s letter must have been written as ‘an essay or taste of my virtue’.

estate NOUN wDon’t read the modern meaning of an area of land with houses on it into these senses.

1 situation

• (MV 3.2.314) Antonio tells Bassanio in a letter: ‘my estate is very low’. 2 standing • (TN 1.5.239) Olivia describes Orsino as ‘noble, / Of great estate’. 3 kingdom • (Mac 1.4.37) Duncan says he will ‘establish our estate upon / Our eldest, Malcolm’—making him next in line to be king.

estate VERB

endow, give • (MND 1.1.98) Egeus says of Hermia: ‘all my right of her / I do estate unto Demetrius’.

estimation NOUN

as well as meanings to do with ‘guessing’ and ‘calculating’, you’ll find: reputation • (Oth 1.3.271) Othello insists that matters of

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exactly the heart will never ‘Make head against my estimation’—harm his reputation as a soldier.




• (Ham 5.1.65) Hamlet agrees with Horatio: ‘ ‘Tis e’en so’. 2 right now • (Ham 4.3.20) Hamlet tells Claudius about Polonius—that worms ‘are e’en at him’.


1 directly • (H5 2.4.92) Exeter tells the French King that Henry is ‘evenly deriv’d’ from Edward III. 2 along the same lines • (MA 2.2.7) Don John talks of Claudio: ‘whatsoever comes athwart his affection ranges evenly with mine’—whatever goes against his wishes goes along with mine.


eternal • (Ham 2.2.478) The First Player describes Mars’ armour as ‘forg’d for proof eterne’—it will last for ever.

Ethiop also spelled Ethiope NOUN 1 dark-skinned person

• (MND 3.2.257) Lysander shouts at Hermia: ‘Away, you Ethiop!’ 2 someone from Africa (not necessarily from Ethiopia) • (RJ 1.5.45) Romeo compares Juliet’s brightness in the dark to ‘a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear’.

et tu, Brute see LATIN, p.352 Europa NOUN

abducted by Zeus (the Greek name of Jove) who had disguised himself in the shape of a bull • (MA 5.4.46) Claudio jests with Benedick that, if he carries off a lover, ‘As once Europa did at lusty Jove’, everyone will rejoice. 2 Europe • (MA 5.4.45) Claudio jests with Benedick, that ‘all Europa shall rejoice at thee’ if he manages to win his lady. see MAP, p.176

even also spelled e’en NOUN • (H5 3.1.20) Henry remembers his soldiers’ forefathers who ‘Have in these parts from morn till even fought’. see also HELLO, p.133

2 plain truth • (H5 2.1.106) Nym reflects on how Henry treated Falstaff: ‘The king hath run bad humours on the knight; that’s the even of it’—caused harmful fluids to flow through him. as well as meaning ‘equal’ and ‘level’, you’ll find: 1 straightforward • (MA 4.1.262) Beatrice says to Benedick that there is ‘A very even way’ of showing friendship. 2 steadfast • (JC 2.1.133) Brutus asks the conspirators not to make an oath, as this would ‘stain / The even virtue of our enterprise’—because their plot is so honourable, they don’t need a vow to make it happen.

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❯ even over VERB

❯ even to’t

just go for it • (Ham 2.2.417) Hamlet tells the players about performing something: ‘We’ll e’en to it like French falconers, fly at anything we see’.

even-Christen also spelled -Christian NOUN

fellow-Christian • (Ham 5.1.26) The First Gravedigger regrets that great people are allowed to kill themselves ‘more than their even-Christen’—nobles are treated differently from common folk.

even-pleached also spelled -pleach’d

1 evening

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❯ evenly ADVERB

try to make sense of • (KL 4.7.80) The Doctor advises Cordelia that Lear should not ‘even o’er the time he has lost’.

1 in Greek mythology, a princess who was

see also HUMOURS, p.137 even ADJECTIVE

1 exactly


with branches evenly layered • (H5 5.2.42) Burgundy describes France as a place where ‘Her hedges, even-pleach’d’, are now overgrown.

event NOUN wDon’t read in the meaning of ‘something that happens’. ‘Event’ usually means ‘the result of something happening’. outcome • (TN 3.4.367) Fabian suggests he and Sir Toby follow Sir Andrew to see what happens: ‘Come, let’s see the event’.

exaction NOUN

enforcing • (MV 1.3.160) Shylock asks: ‘what should I gain / By the exaction of the forfeiture?’

exactly ADVERB

completely • (Ham 1.2.200) Horatio describes the Ghost as ‘Armed at point exactly’—correct in every detail.

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excellent ADJECTIVE wDon’t read in the meaning of ‘extremely good’. supreme • (KL 1.2.112) Edmund reflects on ‘the excellent foppery of the world’—the greatest stupidity.

except VERB

object to • (TN 1.3.6) Sir Toby says he will continue to take no notice of Olivia: ‘let her except, before excepted’—object to something she’s objected to before.

excess NOUN

interest • (MV 1.3.57) Antonio tells Shylock that he doesn’t lend or borrow ‘By taking nor by giving of excess’.

exclaim on VERB

denounce (loudly) • (MV 3.2.174) Portia tells Bassanio that if he gives her ring away, she will ‘exclaim on’ him.

exclamation NOUN

intended to mean ‘acclamation’ • (MA 3.5.24) Dogberry tells Leonato that he hears ‘as good exclamation on your worship as of any man in the city’.

excrement NOUN wDon’t read in the meaning of ‘waste matter from the bowels’. outgrowth of hair • (Ham 3.4.121) Gertrude describes Hamlet’s hair: ‘like life in excrements / Start up and stand an end’.




excuse see scuse executor NOUN

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1 performer

• (Tem 3.1.13) Miranda says that Ferdinand’s lowly work ‘Had never like executor’—someone of his position in society has never had to work in this way. 2 executioner • (H5 1.2.203) Canterbury describes a magistrate, like a honey-bee, ‘Delivering o’er to executors pale / The lazy yawning drone’. 3 disposer of remains • (H5 4.2.51) The French noble Grandpré describes the crows flying over the English army as ‘their executors’—they will eat their dead bodies.

exeunt see STAGE DIRECTIONS, p.285

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exhalation NOUN wDon’t read the meaning of ‘breathing out’ into these senses. shooting star • (JC 2.1.44) Brutus describes ‘The exhalations whizzing in the air’.

❯ exhale VERB

as well as meaning ‘cause to flow’, you’ll find: draw forth (a sword) • (H5 2.1.55) Pistol tells Nym: ‘Therefore exhale!’

exhibit VERB show • (MV 2.3.10) Lancelot bids farewell to Jessica: ‘tears exhibit my tongue’—my tears express what my tongue would say. Lancelot might here be intending ‘exhibit’ to mean ‘inhibit’.


❯ exhibiter also spelled exhibitor NOUN

proposer • (H5 1.1.74) Canterbury tells Ely he thinks Henry supports their cause rather ‘Than cherishing th’exhibiters against us’.

❯ exhibition NOUN

wDon’t read the modern meaning of ‘a public display’ into these senses. 1 maintenance • (Oth 1.3.235) Othello asks the Duke to give Desdemona ‘Due reference of place and exhibition’—appropriate lodging and support. 2 gift • (Oth 4.3.72) Emilia says she would never be unfaithful to her husband for ‘any petty exhibition’. 3 intended to mean ‘permission’ • (MA 4.2.5) Verges tells the Sexton they ‘have the exhibition to examine’ the prisoners.

exigent NOUN critical time • (JC 5.1.19) Antony asks Octavius: ‘Why do you cross me in this exigent?’—why are you arguing with me right now?

exit see STAGE DIRECTIONS, p.285 exorcist NOUN wDon’t read in the modern meaning of ‘one who drives out spirits’. one who summons spirits • (JC 2.1.323) Ligarius tells Brutus he will throw off his sickness: ‘Thou, like an exorcist, hast conjur’d up / My mortified spirit’.

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Shakespeare’s characters have several ways of expressing their feelings of impatience, contempt, or disgust.


impatience when you are told something you already know • (Ham 2.2.383) Polonius tells Hamlet that a company of actors is coming to Elsinore, but Hamlet has already heard the news: ‘Buzz, buzz’. Actors have found many different ways to say this line—pretending he’s distracted by an imaginary fly, joking to his friends that Polonius’ words are boring, pretending to hear a vibrating mobile phone: the possibilities with this line are fairly endless.



disgust and contempt • (Ham 1.2.135) Hamlet thinks the world is an awful place: ‘Fie on’t, ah fie, ‘tis an unweeded garden / That grows to seed’.

a fig

said of anything that is small and has no value • (Oth 1.3.315) Iago is contemptuous when Roderigo says that his ‘virtue’ keeps him doting on Desdemona: ‘Virtue? A fig!’

fig’s end

even smaller than a fig! • (Oth 2.1.243) Roderigo says that Desdemona is ‘full of most blest condition’, but Iago shows his contempt for that idea: ‘Blest fig’s end!’

go to

impatience, similar to modern English ‘come, come!’ • (TN 4.1.2) Sebastian tries to stop Feste bothering him: ‘Go to, go to, thou art a foolish fellow’.

surprise and irritation, as when today we say ‘What?!’ • (KL 1.1.93) Lear is very surprised at Cordelia’s expression of love for him: ‘How, how, Cordelia! Mend your speech a little’.

out on thee/you

angry reproach, as when today we say ‘Away with you!’ • (MA 4.1.55) Hero protests her innocence, but Claudio doesn’t believe her: ‘Out on thee! Seeming!’ Some editions present this line differently, and have ‘Out on thy seeming’, in which case ‘Out on’ means ‘That’s enough of’.



strong anger and disgust • (Oth 4.1.41) Othello trembles in fury to hear of Desdemona’s supposed infidelity: ‘It is not words that shakes me thus. Pish!’


impatient denial, similar to modern ‘fiddlesticks’ or ‘nonsense’ • (TN 2.3.69) Sir Toby dismisses Maria’s worry that Olivia will turn him out of doors because of all the noise he’s been making: ‘Am I not of her blood? Tilly-vally!’ The expression allows various interpretations, such as a serenading persuasion to Maria.



impatient disregard for what has just been said • (RJ 4.2.39) Capulet dismisses his wife’s worries that there isn’t enough time to get things ready for Juliet’s wedding: ‘Tush, I will stir about, / And all things shall be well’.

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expectancy NOUN

hope for the future • (Ham 3.1.152) Ophelia describes Hamlet as ‘Th’expectancy and rose of the fair state’.

❯ expectation NOUN

hopefulness • (H5 3.4.44) The Governor tells Henry: ‘Our expectation hath this day an end’.

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expedience NOUN speed • (H5 4.3.70) Salisbury says the French ‘will with all expedience charge on us’.

expedition NOUN 1 speedy action

• (Mac 2.3.106) Macbeth claims he killed Duncan’s

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Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary